Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Shelly Beach's new book, The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk: Conforming Deadly Thought Patterns to the Word of God, (Moody Publishers, 2009).
You constantly carry on conversations with yourself in your mind, and studies show that this self-talk occurs at a rapid rate of about 1,300 words per minute. But does what you're telling yourself reflect the truth?
Too often, your self-talk reveals a twisted view of yourself and selfish motives that conflict with the way God thinks about you and your life. But if you change the way you talk to yourself – conforming wrong thought patterns to biblical truth – you’ll see more clearly who you really are and what purposes God has for you.
Here’s how you can change the way you talk to yourself:
Listen to yourself. Pay closer attention to what you’re saying in your mind throughout each day and evening. Cut down on busyness that interferes with you hearing your own thoughts well. Ask God to reveal the ugly parts of yourself that you’ve worked to hide with deceptive self-talk. Listen to what you’re telling yourself about your own attitudes and actions, and consider how you might be trying to justify or rationalize sin in your life. Then pray for God to help you change from the inside out.
Recognize the voice of seduction calling you. A battle between good and evil rages in your mind regularly because you live in a fallen world. Satan’s goal in that battle is to shift your focus from God and onto yourself. Pray for the discernment you need to recognize evil trying to seduce you: critical thoughts telling you that you’re no good as a person, bitter thoughts urging you to take revenge on someone who has hurt you, lustful thoughts telling you that you deserve to take whatever you want even if doing so would hurt others, etc. Ask God to open your eyes to the lies that you’ve believed, and to renew your mind through His Holy Spirit so you can replace those lies with truth.
Confess and repent of unhealthy self-talk. Read, study, and reflect on Bible passages regularly, so its truth will soak into your soul and transform the way you think. When you notice that your self-talk conflicts with biblical truth, confess and repent of the wrong thoughts. Ask God to help you kill whatever wrong thoughts are passing through your mind, from pride and greed to anger and fear. Admit how you’ve been following your own plans rather than God’s plans for various areas of your life, from your relationships and health to your work and finances. Take an honest look at the motives you have for what you choose to say and do each day. Let the gratitude you feel for all God has done for you motivate you to submit your will to His in fresh ways daily.
Ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you. Pray for God to help you view yourself as His beloved child, and let God’s view of you give you the comfort and encouragement you need to focus on pleasing God alone rather than trying to please other people. Don’t waste time and energy worrying about what others may think of you. Instead, let the knowledge of God’s love for you free you to serve as He leads you, using the gifts and talents He has given you to fulfill great purposes for your life.
Pray about your self-talk as it occurs. Pray about the thoughts that concern you as they go through your mind. As soon as you become aware of something disturbing like a flash of guilt or pride, confess it and take advantage of the opportunity to have God immediately restore your mind. Catch yourself when you’re lying to yourself or running from God. Then invite God to transform your thinking in that moment. Ask God to help you trust Him to help you with whatever situation you’re thinking about at the time. Then thank Him for His constant presence with you. Make a habit of evaluating your self-talk and praying about it moment-by-moment so you can experience God’s peace whenever you need it.
Replace lies with the truth. Be alert to the lies your self-talk reveals about yourself, other people, and God. Pray for the discernment you need to have an accurate perspective on yourself, others, and God. Tune out the clamor you hear from life’s chaos around you and proactively turn your heart to God so you can tune into His voice above all the noise. Listen to the truth the God speaks to you through His Holy Spirit and let that overcome the lies you’ve been telling yourself. Each time the Holy Spirit reveals a lie and nudges you to pray about it, follow a healthy cycle: sensitivity to the Spirit, conviction of sin, conversation with God, freedom and renewal, and changed behavior.
Write to yourself in a journal. Record the details of your self-talk in a journal so you can study them and ask yourself where your thoughts are coming from and what God wants you to do about them.
Enlist help from other people. Ask a few friends you trust to encourage you, hold you accountable, pray for you, and give you advice as you try to change the way you talk to yourself.
Turn your self-talk into God-talk. Once you’ve learned how to focus on God’s voice speaking to you, invite Him to use your private thoughts to help you love Him and others in deeper ways. Pray for more and more insights to help you love God and other people with greater passion. Ask God to fill your mind with thoughts that will lead you to live the best life possible.
Adapted from The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk: Conforming Deadly Thought Patterns to the Word of God, copyright 2009 by Shelly Beach. Published by Moody Publishers, Chicago, Ill., www.moodypublishers.com.
Shelly Beach is founder and director of the Cedar Falls Christian Writers’ Workshop in Iowa and cofounder of the Breathe Christian Writers’ Workshop in Michigan. She is the author of two previous books. She and her husband Dan reside in Rockford, Michigan.
Article publication date: August 3, 2009